Energy has been universally recognized as one of the most important inputs for economic growth and human development. There is a strong two-way relationship between economic development and energy consumption. On one hand, growth of an economy, with its global competitiveness, hinges on the availability of cost-effective and environmentally benign energy sources, and on the other hand, the level of economic development has been observed to be reliant on the energy demand.
Energy intensity is an indicator to show how efficiently energy is used in the economy. The energy intensity of India is over twice that of the matured economies, which are represented by the OECD (Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development) member countries. India’s energy intensity is also much higher than the emerging economies—the Asian countries, which include the ASEAN member countries as well as China. However, since 1999, India’s energy intensity has been decreasing and is expected to continue to decrease.
The indicator of energy–GDP (gross domestic product) elasticity, that is, the ratio of growth rate of energy to the growth rate GDP, captures both the structure of the economy as well as the efficiency. The energy–GDP elasticity during 1953–2001 has been above unity. However, the elasticity for primary commercial energy consumption for 1991–2000 was less than unity (Planning Commission 2002). This could be attributed to several factors, some of them being demographic shifts from rural to urban areas, structural economic changes towards lesser energy industry, impressive growth of services, improvement in efficiency of energy use, and inter-fuel substitution.
The energy sector in India has been receiving high priority in the planning process. The total outlay on energy in the Tenth Five-year Plan has been projected to be 4.03 trillion rupees at 2001/02 prices, which is 26.7% of the total outlay. An increase of 84.2% is projected over the Ninth Five-year Plan in terms of the total plan outlay on energy sector.
The Government of India in the mid-term review of the Tenth Plan recognized the fact that under-performance of the energy sector can be a major constraint in delivering a growth rate of 8% GDP during the plan period. It has, therefore, called for acceleration of the reforms process and adoption of an integrated energy policy.
In the recent years, the government has rightly recognized the energy security concerns of the nation and more importance is being placed on energy independence. On the eve of the 59th Independence Day (on 14 August 2005), the President of India emphasized that energy independence has to be the nation’s first and highest priority, and India must be determined to achieve this within the next 25 years.
Demand and supply scenario
In the recent years, India’s energy consumption has been increasing at one of the fastest rates in the world due to population growth and economic development. Primary commercial energy demand grew at the rate of six per cent between 1981 and 2001 (Planning Commission 2002). India ranks fifth in the world in terms of primary energy consumption (Table E.1), accounting for about 3.5% of the world commercial energy demand in the year 2003. Despite the overall increase in energy demand, per capita energy consumption in India is still very low compared to other developing countries.
India is well-endowed with both exhaustible and renewable energy resources. Coal, oil, and natural gas are the three primary commercial energy sources. India’s energy policy, till the end of the 1980s, was mainly based on availability of indigenous resources. Coal was by far the largest source of energy. However, India’s primary energy mix has been changing over a period of time.
Despite increasing dependency on commercial fuels, a sizeable quantum of energy requirements (40% of total energy requirement), especially in the rural household sector, is met by non-commercial energy sources, which include fuelwood, crop residue, and animal waste, including human and draught animal power. However, other forms of commercial energy of a much higher quality and efficiency are steadily replacing the traditional energy resources being consumed in the rural sector.
Resource augmentation and growth in energy supply has not kept pace with increasing demand and, therefore, India continues to face serious energy shortages. This has led to increased reliance on imports to meet the energy demand.